Updated from 5:06 p.m. EDTVisa's ( V) earnings beat the consensus analyst estimate amid a challenging U.S. environment, as customers continued the trend of using plastic over cash and the company slashed operating expenses. The San Francisco-based payments network said that fiscal second-quarter profit rose 71% to $536 million, or 71 cents a share, vs. $314 million, or 39 cents a share, in the prior year period. Revenue rose 13% to $1.65 billion and operating expenses fell 30.6% to $766 million. Analysts, according to Thomson Reuters, expected the company would make 64 cents a share during the first three months of the year. With the exception of the U.S., Visa's payments volume grew in all other regions globally, while processed transactions also posted solid growth, the company said. "Despite the challenging economy, Visa continued to post strong operational and financial performance during our fiscal second quarter, and we remain confident in delivering our EPS guidance" this year, Chairman and CEO Joseph Saunders said in a statement. "While expense management and efficiency remain key priorities, we will continue to carefully right-size our pricing structure and further invest in our business with the intent of driving incremental growth and realizing operating advantages." Saunders reiterated that the company's "resiliency" reflects "the strength of Visa's credit, debit, and prepaid products worldwide, which continue to benefit from the ongoing secular shift from cash and check to electronic forms of payments." "These diverse products, combined with further expansion of our processing capabilities worldwide, should continue to benefit our shareholders, clients, and cardholders in the future," he said.
Separately Visa said that it intends to file a shelf registration statement within the next 10 days. CFO Byron Pollitt said the shelf registration will allow the company flexibility to "quickly access the capital markets with equity or debt instruments," during a conference call. The proceeds could be used for a variety of initiatives, however the company has "no plans or reason to go to market," he said "This action is nothing more than proactive capital planning," he said. MasterCard ( MA) is expected to report earnings on Friday. "Looking at Visa's traditional domestic volumes, growth was slightly negative, reflecting the general downturn in consumer spending," Celent senior analyst Red Gillen said in a statement. "As such,
Wednesday's announcement would have been a whole lot worse had Visa not been able to lean on its international model and new business lines." Visa shares rose 4.6% on Wednesday to $63.51, but were flat in recent after-hours action.